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Entertainment: Ellen DeGeneres; Beyonce; Michael Sam; Dolly Parton
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2015-07-07

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A Variety poll revealed that Ellen DeGeneres did more to influence Americans' attitudes about gay rights than any other celebrity or public figure, the publication noted. DeGeneres first made waves in 1997 when she came out as gay on the cover of Time and on The Oprah Winfrey Show. "I thought everyone knew me and I didn't think that one little adjective was going to define me," DeGeneres told People in 2014, adding, "Now I look at it as a movie that I saw that someone went through, and I only experience the amazing life that I have right now."

Singer Beyonce, on July 1, released a video clip in celebration of the Supreme Court ruling striking down state bans on same-sex marriage, On Top Magazine noted. In the 15-second clip first uploaded to the entertainer's Instagram account, Beyonce dances to her latest single, "7/11," in a variety of rainbow-themed outfits. She captioned the video "Never too late. #LoveWins," adding a heart-shaped emoji. In 2013, Beyonce tweeted support for marriage equality as the issue went before the Supreme Court in a separate case.

Football star Michael Sam and his college sweetheart may have called it quits just six months after getting engaged, The Daily Mail reported. Sam and Vito Cammisano met as students at the University of Missouri and began dating in 2011. Sam proposed to Cammisano atop St. Peters Basilica in Vatican City this past January. The two have not been seen together in months however, and now Sam has deleted all photos of Cammisano from his Instagram account—including their engagement photo. Sam recently took time away from his new team, the Canadian Football League's Montreal Alouettes, for personal reasons. He recently returned to the squad.

Singer Katy Perry is on the cover of Forbes' 16th annual Celebrity 100 list, the publication noted. The "Fireworks" singer earned $135 million between June 2014 and June 2015. However, boxer Floyd Mayweather topped the earnings list with $300 million. Boxer Manny Pacquiao, whom Mayweather recently defeated, is number two. Perry, band One Direction and Howard Stern complete the top five. Taylor Swift ( #8 ), Justin Timberlake ( #19 ), Lady Gaga ( #25 ), Elton John ( #31 ), Vin Diesel ( #43 ), rapper Drake ( #54 ) and Scarlett Johansson ( #65 ) are among others in the top 100.

Dolly Parton has become known for her philanthropy, most notably her Imagination Library, which provides books to children in Tennessee. Recently, Parton honored another individual, Dyane Smokorowski, for her contributions to education with the Chasing Rainbows Award, Taste of Country noted. The award is presented annually by the National Network of State Teachers of the Year to an educator who "has overcome great obstacles in his or her life, has captured the rainbow and is helping children."

Marisa Tomei has landed a recurring role in the upcoming second season of the hit Fox show Empire, according to TheWrap. Tomei will play a venture capitalist who becomes involved in the Lyon family's affairs. She joins a number of other notable guest stars for the new season, including Chris Rock and Lenny Kravitz. Gay Star News added that Tomei's character is a lesbian billionaire.

An acclaimed revival of Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater's musical Spring Awakening is slated to transfer to Broadway in the fall, according to Deadline. The revival is a co-production of Los Angeles-based Deaf West Theatre and Forest Of Arden, whose founder, Michael Arden, directs, with choreography by Spencer Liff. Frank Wedekind's 1981 play concerns a group of hormonal teens dealing with sex, abuse, grades, rejection and parents.

Fashion designer Marc Jacobs stunned his followers when he ( accidentally ) posted a nude selfie, US Weekly noted. He told an Instagram follower, "Yeah. I accidentally posted a pic of my bare ass and took it down. I was flirting with someone I met on Instagram. Meant to send it by DM. Oops, my mistake. I apologize to anyone it offended. I'm a gay man. I flirt and chat with guys online sometimes. BIG DEAL!" The photo, which revealed a bit more than just his derriere, went viral after it hit the app with the caption: "It's yours to try!"

Speaking of fashion designers, Donna Karan has made a personal decision to step down as chief designer for Donna Karan New York ( DKNY ), ABC News reported. Karan will now be taking on an advisory role to focus on her Urban Zen Company and foundation, which she founded in 2007. Urban Zen, a nonprofit organization committed to improving the healing and treatment experience for patients and families, was founded after Karan said she was disappointed by the health care her husband received while undergoing treatment for lung cancer.

Kyle XY actor Matt Dallas and his singer-songwriter boyfriend of six years, Blue Hamilton, have finally made it official, according to US Weekly. Dallas, 32, confirmed in an Instagram post on July 5 that he and Hamilton, 35, had tied the knot. "Introducing Mr. and Mr. Dallas," the actor captioned a photo of him and his new husband proudly holding their marriage certificate after their city hall ceremony.

Cheryl Burke and Thomas Roberts, who were set to co-host the Miss USA pageant, both stepped down one day after NBC pulled the program, The Hollywood Reporter noted. The Dancing with the Stars alum and the openly gay MSNBC reporter are the third and fourth co-hosts to part ways with the pageant; Roselyn Sanchez and Cristian de la Fuente were scheduled to co-host the Spanish simulcast, but both departed because of organizer Donald Trump's comments about Mexican immigrants. The Miss USA pageant was scheduled to air live on NBC from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on July 12.

In a related matter, the parent organization for Miss USA confirmed to Us Weekly that the 2015 pageant is still happening despite NBC pulling the broadcast. Donald Trump, 69, bought the pageant in 1996, and brokered a deal with NBC in 2002 that gave the network half-ownership over the organization. The pageant will now air on Reelz, Deadline noted; the Albuquerque, New Mexico-based satellite and cable channel is seen in about 60 percent of U.S. households with one or more TVs.

Tom Ford was overheard declining a photograph after his spring 2016 collection show during London Fashion Week, reportedly telling photographers: "I don't do photos with boys: Too tall, too beautiful. Same for kids and dogs," NewNowNext.com noted. A former model himself, Ford became a familiar face during his time as creative director at Gucci and YSL and as founder of his eponymous brand. Ford will next direct the film Nocturnal Animals, a George Clooney-produced film set to star Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams.

The Andy Warhol Museum announced—in collaboration with the National Gallery of Victoria ( NGV ), Melbourne, Australia—a major international exhibition featuring two significant artists of the 20th and 21st centuries: Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei, a press release stated. "Andy Warhol/Ai Weiwei" opens at NGV in December 2015, and at The Warhol ( located in Pittsburgh ) in June 2016. This project is supported, in part, by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Rapper Azealia Banks is claiming she can't be homophobic because she's bisexual, PinkNews noted. The rapper has used gay slurs on a number of occasions, regularly calling gay men "f——ts" on social media. She previously defended using the word, claiming it is not a gay slur and just means "a man who hates women." However, she recently posted, "All of my friends are gay, I am bisexual…. So please… Stop."

Vegan rock star Morissey thanked Madison Square Garden onstage for going "cruelty-free" and agreeing to his demand that it not serve meat products during a recent concert there—apparently unaware that some in the audience were munching on brisket sliders and sushi, The New York Post reported. While the vast majority of attendees had veggie dogs, those watching from corporate suites were treated to a spread that included meatball sandwiches, chicken fingers and spicy tuna rolls. Morissey has not responded to requests for comment.

At the recent BET Awards, Nicki Minaj reportedly invited fellow female rapper Dej Loaf, whose real name is Deja Trimble, to her trailer minutes before the show started for a make-out session, LatinPost.com noted. The "Anaconda" rapper ordered her security team and entourage out of the trailer when Loaf arrived, except male rapper Meek Mill who was allowed to stay. Loaf has a song, "Shawty," in which she raps, in part, about making out with another woman.

Tony Award winner Betty Buckley—who will be seen later this summer in the Bay Street Theater production of the Tony-winning musical Grey Gardens—was recently injured in a horse-riding accident on her Texas ranch, Playbill noted. In an interview with WBAZ's Walker Vreeland, the acclaimed singing actress ( who once starred on TV's Eight Is Enough ) said she fractured five vertebrae in her lower back after falling from her horse, which had lost its footing.

The New York City Center Encores! Off-Center production of the Alan Menken/Howard Ashman musical Little Shop of Horrors, featuring stage and screen stars Ellen Greene and Jake Gyllenhaal, begins performances July 1 at the famed Manhattan venue, according to Playbill. Greene—who created the role of Audrey both on stage and screen—reprises that part opposite Oscar nominee Gyllenhaal, who was seen on Broadway this past season opposite Ruth Wilson in Constellations.

In a new trailer for the upcoming docuseries I Am Cait, Caitlyn Jenner promises "No more secrets, TheWrap noted. The trailer also features several emotional moments, such as Jenner spending time with her mother, who says, "My first feeling was I lost my son. Then I thought 'You know what? I'm gaining.'" The series debuts July 26.

Also regarding Jenner, she is sharing the fear she faced in deciding to publicly come out as transgender—and reaffirming her commitment to fighting for LGBT equality—in a new column, "The Real Me," appearing on both CaitlynJenner.com and the Huffington Post, according to NewNowNext.com . In her first column, "The Journey Begins," Jenner reveals she's overwhelmed with the positive response she's received since appearing on the cover of Vanity Fair—but she admits she has "a lot of catching up to do."

Gay actor George Takei has strong words for Clarence Thomas, one of the Supreme Court justices who authored a dissenting opinion in the groundbreaking decision that brought marriage equality to all 50 states, NewNowNext.com noted. In part, Thomas stated, "Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity." Takei, who was placed in a WWII Japanese internment camp as a child, called Thomas "a disgrace to America." Takei is currently gearing up for Allegiance, a Broadway show about his childhood experiences.

Misty Copeland has been promoted to principal dancer of the American Ballet Theatre ( ABT )—making her the first female African-American dancer to reach that status in the 75-year history of the storied company, according to USA Today. She was one of a number of dancer announcements ABT made June 20, but Copeland's achievement garnered the most attention. The company announced the promotion six days after Copeland, 32, made her New York debut dancing Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, one of the most important roles in a ballerina's repertoire.

When she was asked at the Orange Is the New Black premiere about the new Point Break remake, out this Christmas, Lori Petty ( who was in the original film ) held few, if any, punches, EW.com noted. "I think it's the dumbest thing I've ever heard," she told The Hollywood Reporter. "I got a phone call from my manager: 'Why did you diss the new Point Break?' Because that's bulls—t! That's some stupid s—t right there!"

Singer/actress Jill Scott has renounced her support for Bill Cosby following the release of a 2005 deposition in which he admitted to drugging women, The Huffington Post reported. Scott, who previously supported Cosby despite the sexual assault allegations against him, took to Twitter to say she was wrong. In part, she posted, "I stood by a man I respected and loved. I was wrong. It HURTS!!! When you get it ALL right, holla."

Meghan Trainor postponed two shows because of a hemorrhage on her vocal cords, Page Six noted. The 21-year-old "All About That Bass" singer had been scheduled to perform in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on July 3 and Uncasville, Connecticut, on July 4; however, she has also cancelled shows in Chicago scheduled for July 12. The Grammy-nominated performer's other hits include "Lips Are Movin'" and "Dear Future Husband."

Jerry Weintraub—the colorful and controversial producer whose films included Nashville, Diner, The Karate Kid and the trio of Ocean's Eleven films—died July 6 of cardiac arrest in Santa Barbara, California, at 77, according to Variety. Weintraub also, among other things, produced Steven Soderbergh's acclaimed Liberace biodrama Behind the Candelabra, starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon.

Iggy Azalea took to Twitter to dispel rumors of a spat with Britney Spears, and fired back at the media for playing up the drama, TheWrap noted. In a string of tweets, Azalea explained that any "beef" between her and Spears is something the media manufactured. She also accused the media of wanting women to only be "overtly sexual" and to have "no real opinion other than, 'I love it!'"

Ahead of the season-two midseason finale of Botched on July 12, E! Entertainment has renewed the breakout hit plastic-surgery reality series for a third season to premiere in 2016, Deadline reported. Botched follows known plastic surgeons Dr. Terry Dubrow and Dr. Paul Nassif as they fix extreme plastic surgeries gone awry. The eight-episode second part of the show's second season will air in the fall.

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals shook up the Black Swan intern case by vacating an earlier judgment in favor of two interns who worked on the Darren Aronofsky-directed film, Deadline reported. The original 2011 lawsuit against Fox Searchlight set the stage for a slew of intern class actions and settlements against media companies based on claims that the interns were doing what should be classified as paid work.

Showtime is letting viewers watch the season-three premieres of Ray Donovan and Masters of Sex across multiple platforms, in advance of their July 12 premieres, according to a press release. Viewers can sample the TV-14 rated premieres of Ray Donovan ( s.sho.com/RD301 ) and Masters of Sex ( s.sho.com/MOS301 ) for free now on YouTube and SHO.com . The new season premieres can also be accessed via select television providers' free On Demand channels and websites, on Showtime on Demand, and various partner sites and applications.

Actress/singer Vanessa Williams ( TV's Ugly Betty ) tied the knot July 4 with fiance Jim Skrip in front of their family and friends, People noted. Williams announced her engagement in September during a taping of The Queen Latifah Show.

Twenty-two-year-old Devon Staples died instantly July 4 after lighting a firework on his head, E! Online reported. Staples' death is the first fireworks fatality in Maine since the state legalized fireworks on Jan. 1, 2012. Devon was from Calais but was living in Orlando where he used to work Disney World and dress up as a number of characters, like Gaston from Beauty and the Beast.

Tamara Mellon, who co-founded fashion brand Jimmy Choo before starting her own line, is now at war with the iconic designer-shoe company, alleging it is using underhanded business tactics to spike her eponymous firm's success, Page Six noted. Lawyers for Mellon—who cashed out of Choo in 2011 for an estimated $135 million after a strained relationship with partner Jimmy Choo—fired off a letter to Choo's company, claiming it is breaching EU antitrust law by approaching Mellon's manufacturers and insisting they not work with her label, Tamara Mellon, launched in 2013.


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